Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

I've been watching the kestrels of Sugar Hill all this spring. Lots of signs of nesting, but no fledglings as of yet. Both the father and mother are active hunters. A fascinating picture is emerging of how these birds exploit different levels of the food chain in order to provide for their young. On the one hand, the male easily plucks house sparrows, finches, mice and the occasional escapee, warbler or insect. He also has a taste for young pigeons and starlings. The male often will sit in ambush and snare prey as it passes by.

He gives a stretch before heading out.

Meanwhile, outside the scrape, the female was also laying in wait. Suddenly a dumb-ass pigeon flew by and landed directly below the falcon.

She watched intently as it stumbled around the roof.

She gently pivoted...

and dove on the bird!

After loosing them on the roof, both emerged overhead as the kestrel took a final turn at the pidgeon. Both then flew off in various arcs. I think the females plan was to pin the pidgeon to the roof and administer a killing blow. Only in such a manner could she down such a large foe. A few minutes later she returned and promptly took a breathtaking run at a starling!
At the cathedral, the parents stood vigil over the nursery.



Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's Raining Birds!

The fledgling fallout continues,with young hawks and kestrels being found all over the city. The red tails at St. John the Divine have, its seems, fledged 3 young successfully! Watching one them awkwardly clambor around the various chapels, spires and parapets of the cathedral is a lot of fun.

A thunderstorm passes...

Broadway Birds

While searching for kestrels, I took a hike up to Broadway Bridge to see if there was any peregrine nesting activity. I spotted the female high on a co-op overlooking Marble Hill. After some time she flew down, circled the bridge and killed a pigeon as it perched on a trellis. I watched it return to the scrape with the prey, but my camera couldnt catch up with the swift bird.

It landed and proceeded to strip the carcass.

It then flew to outside the scrape and left the food.

Scraping the bits from its beak!

The male on the Bronx side.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Branching Out

All across the city, nesting birds are progressing through their stages. The time will soon be upon us for fledging. In that time, there will be numerous nests to watch...some are only about a week or so away! For instance, the young hawks in Highbridge Park, are already making long forays outside of the nest and onto neighboring branches.

I found their mother nearby keeping watch.

The seemingly empty nest.

At the cathedral, the young dont have the benefit of a built in playground.

The parents also keep a close watch from nearby.

Meanwhile the resident kestrels continue their busy pace!

I also found this oriole's nest.

And after some time located the source of a strange whistling...

An escaped cockatiel!